# Estimation Theory

Estimation theory is a branch of statistics and signal processing that deals with estimating the values of parameters based on measured/empirical data that has a random component. The parameters describe an underlying physical setting in such a way that their value affects the distribution of the measured data. An estimator attempts to approximate the unknown parameters using the measurements.

For example, it is desired to estimate the proportion of a population of voters who will vote for a particular candidate. That proportion is the parameter sought; the estimate is based on a small random sample of voters.

Or, for example, in radar the goal is to estimate the range of objects (airplanes, boats, etc.) by analyzing the two-way transit timing of received echoes of transmitted pulses. Since the reflected pulses are unavoidably embedded in electrical noise, their measured values are randomly distributed, so that the transit time must be estimated.

In estimation theory, it is assumed the measured data is random with probability distribution dependent on the parameters of interest. For example, in electrical communication theory, the measurements which contain information regarding the parameters of interest are often associated with a noisy signal. Without randomness, or noise, the problem would be deterministic and estimation would not be needed.